Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Further OCOR funding agreed as final stages of the Munio Project begin

Derby’s Our City, Our River (OCOR) project has received an exciting boost as £17.7 million has been awarded as part of the Government’s initiative to protect homes and businesses from flooding.

This extra funding, which will be formally approved by Cabinet on Wednesday, will go towards the delivery of flood alleviation measures at Derby Riverside around Stuart Street, Phoenix Street, and Exeter Place. The hope is that the investment will create a new area of the city on the east side of the river.

The OCOR programme will unlock the redevelopment potential on the east side of the river with the creation of a new area of the city, and support the construction of more homes for Derby and commercial space for up to 1,000 jobs.

To achieve this, further design work and a refresh of the planning consent will continue over the next two years.

Earlier phases of OCOR defences were put to the test in November 2019 when river levels reached new records. Closing the city’s floodgates saved over 1,200 homes and properties, highlighting the value of the programme.

In response to the funding being agreed, Councillor Steve Hassall, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Decarbonisation & Strategic Planning & Transport said: “This funding is great news for the OCOR project and the whole city. We’re delighted to receive this substantial investment towards the next phase of our flood defences and the regeneration of the east side of the river.

“We know the importance of protecting the livelihoods of our residents and the major changes proposed with this funding will be key to protecting homes and businesses. The major regeneration of this area will allow us to embrace the potential of our river and also support Derby’s economic recovery.

“This funding and the proposals have the potential to transform our city centre and open up new spaces and opportunities for residents and visitors.  We’d like to thank the Environment Agency for their ongoing support throughout the Our City, Our River project.”

Paul Lockhart, Area Flood & Coastal Risk Manager for the Environment Agency, added: “It is great news for the people and businesses in the city of Derby that a further £17m of government funding has been awarded for the Our City Our River Derby Flood Alleviation Scheme.

“We know the devastating impact that flooding can have, which is why protecting people and communities and mitigating the impacts of climate change is our top priority for the Environment Agency.

“Securing this additional funding to further regenerate the River Derwent area in Derby and reduce flood risk brings the total to £27m for phase II of the scheme; £10m was secured in 2020.

“This partnership scheme between the Environment Agency and Derby City Council provides flood protection to infrastructure, residential and commercial properties and also facilitates the regeneration aspirations of the Council.”

As funding for package 2 has been secured, work has begun the construction of a new pumping station on the Mill Fleam in the final stages of the Munio Project.

The new pump station will discharge water from Markeaton Brook into the Derwent, rather than it backing up through the brook under the city, increasing the risk of the city centre flooding. This will provide further protection to homes and businesses, mitigating the social and economic impacts of any future flooding event.

To prepare for construction, some trees will need to be removed over the coming weeks. Following completion of the project, a programme of tree planting will begin on site and at other city centre and riverside locations to compensate for the lost trees as much as possible. Many of the trees to be removed, particularly on the banks of the Mill Fleam are self-set and overcrowded. Replacement planting will be with more suitable species and with room to mature.

Project Munio works have also created opportunities for wider environmental improvements on Bass’s Recreation ground, including woodland planting, the creation of a fish refuge lagoon on the Mill Fleam, and improvements to the park entrance and events area. This is on top of the programme of improvements that OCOR has already delivered along the river corridor in partnership with volunteer and Friends groups. These include:

  • Darley Park –tree management, wildflower meadow seeding, river bank improvements and planting, riverside path and boardwalk
  • Nutwood Local nature reserve – restoration of swamp area and habitat creation, improved access path, invasive species management
  • Alvaston Park – lake improvements and planting, creation of lagoon adjacent to the river

Councillor Steve Hassall, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Decarbonisation & Strategic Planning & Transport said: “Residents may have already noticed the preparations for this final step of Project Munio. The new pumping station is the last piece of the jigsaw on the west side of the river, and its completion will leave the city centre with a reliable flood defence system that will protect people’s homes, businesses, and livelihoods.

“We appreciate how essential trees are in the city and it is unfortunate that displacement of trees has had to take place. This is an essential and intrinsic element to the flood defence programme and has to take place in this strategic and specific location in order to protect our city and its residents for years to come from the devastation that can be caused by flood waters.

“We want to be absolutely clear that we will be undertaking a replanting programme and other environmental works to compensate for the trees lost as part of the flood protection project, and that the net outcome will be the introduction of better quality and a more appropriate species of trees.”

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